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December 19, 2008

Legislation and Regulation in the Libertarian State

A little while back, I argued that the current crisis was not, by any means, the end of libertarianism, and that anyone who says so misunderstands libertarianism both in terms of its practical consequences and in terms of its theoretical basis. What I mean by this is, in the first case, that libertarianism doesn't condone the policies that led to the current crisis and, in the second case, that libertarianism is a deontological theory of political morality, not a theory of political 'utility'. That last claim perhaps needs a translation for non-philosophers...
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October 21, 2008

The End of Libertarianism?

I'm still on the newsletter of the Penn Libertarian Association, which has pointed me to an article on Slate entitled "The End of Libertarianism". Author Jacob Weisberg believes the current US financial collapse proves that libertarianism is not viable in the same way that the fall of the USSR proved that Communism is not viable. I offer two brief practical responses and one theoretical response. Firstly, without any government involvement, it is unlikely that any of this would have happened...
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March 10, 2007

Laissez-faire (the game) Version 2

Update (6/2/07): Three minor changes: (1) the cost of the Home Maintenance Co. has been increased to $500. (2) A provision has been made (see under "Taking a Turn" and "Jail") to ensure that players going out do not gift their properties to other players to alter the course of the game. (3) Changes have been made to the selection order at the beginning of the (not yet play-tested) zero sum variant in the hope of increasing the fairness of the initial selection of properties. Also some clarifications have been made. I am considering removing the Petroleum Distribution Co., but...
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December 29, 2006

Laissez-faire (The Game)

I received for Christmas this year a copy of the game Anti-Monopoly. The game has an interesting premise. Half of the players are "monopolists" who play according to rules similar to the original Monopoly, and the other half are "competitors" who must charge "fair" rents and obey laws and so forth. The competitors make up for their lower rents by being able to build houses without controlling a monopoly. If you are detecting a slight socialist bias here, you are right; the rulebook contains questionable and irrelevant interjections like "monopolists will destroy competitors in the absence of anti-monopoly laws." However...
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March 3, 2006

John Stossel on Education and the Free Market

Syndicated columnist and ABC news reported John Stossel has an editorial at (HT: WorldMagBlog) on the benefits of introducting free market competition to the primary/secondary education system through a voucher-type system. Most of the points he makes are obvious - as economists say, idealized free markets lead to Pareto-optimal states, and competition brings a system that much closer to the idealized free market - but the article is nevertheless worth a read. In short, under the competitive system "Bad schools will close and better schools will open. And the better schools won't all be the same." Stossel points out...
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February 20, 2006

Libertarianism and Corporations

One of the key problems of strict (non-consequentialist) libertarianism is how the state is to successfully perform its function of protecting citizens from force or fraud without the funding acquired from confiscatory taxation schemes. The problem is that libertarian commitments in the region of political morality do not permit the government to violate the private property rights which individuals have in the hypothetical "state of nature," and in the state of nature individuals own all of their income, not just what's left after taxes. The government exists to enforce these property rights. Robert Nozick believes (see his book Anarchy, State,...
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January 20, 2006

On Public Education

In the comments to this post on recent attempts to insert intelligent design into public high schools as philosophy, Ed Darrell and I have been having a discussion about more general questions of public education. I thought it would be a good idea to write a piece about my general view of this subject here, since the discussion is looking like its about to get quite long and detailed. As I see it, there are two issues here: the government's use of tax money to fund education, and the government's exercise of power over how education is done. Furthermore, there...
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January 10, 2006

Smoking Bans, Private Property, and the Free Market

Hammer of Truth reports today that New Jersey has been added to the list of states banning smoking in "public buildings." Washington is also one of these states. Philadelphia tried to pass a city ban some time ago, but I believe it failed (I'm not entirely sure). Now, there are two things I want everyone to know about these smoking bans: (1) they are unjust, because they violate the private property rights of restraunt and bar owners, and (2) they are unnecessary because, to the degree that people actually want non-smoking establishments, the free markent provides them. I do not...
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